Archive for Bria

Empirical consumerism

Posted in Deleuze, Immanence, Rhizome, Subjectivity with tags on May 17, 2012 by immanentterrain2

This post might err on the side of saccharine; I want to talk to you about milieus and customer service. Taking permission from empiricalism – in which everyday experiences is knowledge – I’d like to make some statements from personal experience, bouncing off a Deleuzean mirror. Also too, I am interested in substantive philosophy: something that can be internalized has more value to me.

Passing through a city, we encounter multiple sites of exchange. We pay for transit, food, too many beverages, learning, accessories, entertainment, fashion, housing. Our lives are paid for at every level. Aside from negotiating, or choosing what is the appropriate product to consume (based on personal guidelines, beholden to personal standards), the method of transaction is fairly automatic. Present the good, receive the price, hand the money over, watch the cash be put in the register, the change is counted out and the receipt enclosed. The moment that this perfected chain of events is interrupted is if there is a problem with the expected good/payment, or if there are questions/information needed to complete the purchase. The certain chain of events has been disrupted. The reaction of the consumer ranges from nonchalant, to awkward, to even irate, and possibly angry. Customer service representatives, don’t they just take it all in?

These representatives fill our environment; racing feet to fetch that thing, busy hands to fold that item, arrange, rearrange, provide, and solicit. They occupy the establishments we go to, and we hold them accountable for our experience. Good service or bad service, the very mood of our purchases is attached to that person, or team of people expected to fulfill our needs and wants in exchange our money.

Now, let me qualify my stance before I slant this piece. I have a crazy hospitality resume. In about 12 years, I have worked in hockey arenas, golf course maintenance, snack shack, beer cart, cafes, university residence, hotel, hostel reception, butchery, honey factories, vineyards, housekeeping, and bars. I’ve despised and adored my jobs in the same day. To get through to the next paycheck, there was something in me to care about these jobs. As a result, these experiences have shaped how I approach other “customer service representatives,” a clinical term to classify all those who are the gatekeepers to our commodities.

The other day, to upkeep my bad lung clogging habit, I recognized a man from another tobacco store. This was my chance to say ‘hey!” I asked him his name, and he asked for mine, and now we exchange the news and our commentary every time I step into one of his shops. This more familiar encounter makes my vice glow. A dormant congeniality is activated, and without ulterior motive. Dividuation is a lesser issue now.

Component to a rhizomous existence, a plane of consistency, forming multiplicities, are the very nodes that connect to our own personal rhizomes. This is our relation to the world, to engage with the stimuli that surround us. Deleuze dubs this environment as a milieu. As Uexküll notes in his study of the tick, and Deleuze incorporated in his philosophy, in order for stimulus to have an impact, it needs to be noticed by the subject. Our milieus are the result of our observations and our input into them. Rather than be motivated by enhancing insulated lives, we need to have an ulterior motive of relations: such “relations to form or compound extensive relations or to enable an intensive power, sociabilities and communities.”[1]

Poverty of our relations can be this skimming of an elemental part of our daily lives. Societal codes, or even just the experience of dealing with multiple strangers in a day can inhibit our relations with various keepers of commodities. Maybe it’s because we are forced to give our money over that causes us to feel somewhat distrustful. In this obligatory milieu, we can consider our habits, and devise lines of flight by interacting with these goods-and-services-keepers. This yields some perks that lessen or bypass some of the capitalist expectations. Friendly banter with a bartender gets a shot passed to you under the table, the barista will ring in a small drip for that latte, the tobacco store will sell you the pack, but throw in free papers and filters. This is not to try and garner free shit, but a symbol of camaraderie. Consider, “the simple animal has a simple environment; the multiform animal has an environment just as richly articulated as it is”[2]

Here is a to and fro to our milieu, a re and pro. This is to make our experiences ceaseless versions of us, to construct a common plan of immanence that is inclusive of beings.[3] Creators make a move by dotting that canvas or whatever medium. Creators in everyday living make a move with others to continuously launch an inexhaustive variation of ourselves to exercise the capacity to become more complex persons in experiencing milieus. The trick is, creation is not a divine ability, it is in all of our abilities. In terms of our daily lives, by maintaining the contact at the level of money transaction, there is obedience to the transcendent capitalist flows. Rather, to be inexhaustible is to include other bodies, minds and individuals, and develop unique, diverse multiciplicities. To create is to make an action, unpredictable, is to willingly open up to be affected and to affect, to expand the capacities for relations. This is key as in our currency habits; we are left unaware of the dormant qualities unless we release them through re-engaged encounters.

Milieus are not maintainable surroundings, but are modulated through our concern and action towards. Let’s take the idea of guardian angels for a second. We’ve all had those random events when life really blows, and we are at our wit’s end. Then out of generosity and resourcefulness, or sheer luck, some stranger alleviates the situation. Our gratitude is likely to be genuine, but also borne out of relief. But now consider how to be that guardian angel, that miracle instigator, for someone else.

This is sometimes what the customer service team does for us. Someone needs to make a move to make someone’s day. While service is an expectation, there is value in a reciprocal relationship. This is regulated through a tipping system, but there can be intangible exchanges in which can liven up someone’s position or a general circumstance. Something unexpected beyond the customary manners of please’s and thank you’s, but a genuine engagement of persons. In this busy buzzing service climate, there are multitudes of becomings to connect with. It is an idealistic, sweet notion, but this makes sense to me, and this is what I consider while reading Deleuze. In my hospitality experiences, I would come to know the various chefs, baristas, housekeepers, bussers, etc. in any  environment. My tone of voice, my attention towards them, my appreciation for their work, and my expectation of work is all involved in my potential interaction with them. A mentor taught me, always ask for their names.

In attempts to open up a rhizomatic existence, there are affectual capacities in being sensitive, while contributing to our milieus. If anything is to be achieved, my thought is to pay attention to subtle possibilities in every opportunity of relations.


[1] Deleuze, Gilles. “Spinoza and Us” Spinoza, Practical Philosophy. Trans. Robert Hurley. (San Francisco: City Light Books, 1988)). P.126

[2] Uexküll, Jakob von, A Foray Into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: With a Theory of Meaning. Trans. Joseph D. (O’Neil Minneapolis: University of Minnosota Press 1940) P. 5o

[3] Deleuze, P. 122


Posted in Deleuze with tags on April 23, 2012 by immanentterrain2


On April 7, 2012, with friends, I traveled 80 minutes on Hudson Line to arrive at Dia Beacon. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Dia Beacon is a colossal structure hosting some of the most provocative works I’ve experienced, Ghostly words lead me through the complicated pathways in Dia Beacon

“What interests me is the opportunity for all of us to become something different from what we are, by constructing spaces that contribute something to the experience of who we are.”[1]

Behold, two formidable steel structures by Richard Serra.

The sculptures are blocs of sensation, compounds of vibrations, the sites of sensation, and the pathways of becoming, habituating the present, removing the artwork from the gallery and simulating a separate world. The space it occupies is secondary to the space it provides. The description of these structures will always be limited, because it is not an optical, aural, or visual experience to visit this piece, but a physical awareness. Curvaceous Con Ten steel gradually change color as the material oxidizes over 8 years, leaving the surfaces textured and multi-tonal. Serra is mathematic in concept and industrial in production: erecting massive metals from overlapping renderings of ellipticals. I am fascinated with these sculptures, and I attempt to explore this feeling through the delicacy of Deleuzean philosophy. What is the junction of Serra’s creative assertion and Deleuze? My interaction with the sculptures was vivid, teetering into the void of calm, a sort of spirituality.

Walking through the sculpture, the eye travels the path above, the path ahead, and the path below. The curved walls nearly met, and never part: dynamic. Entering the sculpture, step one, enclose, step two, open up, step three, breathe, step four… These hodological structures connote a physical experience that alerts me of my tangible present.

Richard Serra rejects a total implied meaning of the work; there is no transcendent, inbred meaning. I believe that Serra facilitates an environment that is deeper than just conceptual subjectivity. There is a sense of pathway, that in the journey itself, the experience is momentary. The continuous unfolding while inside or circling around a Serra sculpture suggests “[t]his idea that truth isn’t something already out there we have to discover, but has to be created in every domain.”[2] While Serra conceives and implements the structures, he seems to let them free, standing in galleries, as mediators. In Mediators, Deleuze says “Creation is all about mediators. Without them nothing happens. They can be people… but things too.”[3] As a mediator, these sculptures put spectator bodies into orbit. The artwork has an entrance that tails out into the gallery. For the spectator to approach the piece, it can be from the outside or to go inside: there is no clear origin. Bodies pass through these mediators based off of Serra’s notion that vision is “peripatic”[4] As I walked around and through these sculptures, I saw them as profound sensory aggregates.

Titan sheets of oxidized metal bend in convex and concave forms, each sculpture is deliberately an encounter within the gallery space. Here Serra’s work is positioned as an environment in relation to the confines of the gallery. These site-specific structures are designed with the walls as a counterpoint to communicate an enclosure, or an opening. The scale and expansion of the sculptures are in relation to the scale of the building. These reconstitute the gallery less familiar; the relation between the gallery walls to an artwork has been to set a platform, an exhibition of assorted works in a curated design. Serra is motivated to produce in order to broaden experiences. Serra’s designs protrude into the gallery ceiling and impinge on the institution’s authority of hosting an artwork. But it is not a competition, but gravity, and the spirals of the sculptures invite the viewer into a vortex of looking up down or straight ahead, eyesight can’t quite bend.

Animate Form written by Greg Lynn reflects on how an object becomes a vector. Serra’s sculptures at Dia Beacon are animate, dynamic objects, even in static mode; their trajectories are relative to other objects, forces, fields, and flows. They usher and reflect an active space of force and motion, involving the gallery spectators.[5] Animate form justifies the steel masses as bodies, and then the relation from the sculpture to the visitor can be identified as bodies to bodies; mediators to guests. While the structures have a formal simplicity, the structures have complex points of interaction or observation. It requires the viewer to walk around the piece, involving the body with the artwork. The walls have vectors, in directing the eye, and in presenting a magnitude of material. What is the sensation? What is the movement? How does one orient with the piece? The walls are vectors and the structures are mobile continents.

Serra asserts that he creates for a physical awareness. This is for the viewer to orient oneself to the artwork.  It is at once impersonal and personal. There are no straight lines except for the gallery. The sculptures require the spectators to walk through. Spectatorship should be an exploration, not an affirmation of artistic principles. In the very nature of traveling through the sculpture, there is a process of becoming, a discovering, and here Serra creates these possible, only experienced in person, gallery memories. In discussing milieu, Deleuze says

“The trajectory merges not only with the subjectivity of those who travel through a milieu, but also with the subjectivity of the milieu itself, insofar as it is reflected in those who travel through it. The map expresses the identity of the journey and what one journeys through. It merges with its object, when the object itself is movement.”[6]

 Traveling through the sculpture in a spiral continuum. Getting to the center is not the goal or the accomplishment, but rather the pliant observation, an activity of looking. Movement is fundamental to this art piece, and while the walls are unpredictable, unfathomable in one viewing. This is the key component of experience.

An implication of engaging with a Serra sculpture could be that they nurture the habit to move, to invoke, to inspire, and to will the spectator to make a move, The spectators walking through demand their interaction to give their movement and receive movement

This is a becoming pilgrimage. The sculptures assume their affect because the spectators are with the sculpture; they bring their curiousity and content. Serra says that a work of his “ includes and is dependent on memory and anticipation.”[7] Orientation through the piece, how to walk through it, unpredictable, alter the routines of navigating around an art piece, exploration, the curved walls, sky or floor are the lines of flight, guided pathways. To experience the structure is an exchange, a resonance. To walk is to ruminate, process. This is how Serra’s structures at Dia Beacon constitute my immanent art experience. Activated by the spectator, the art becomes a living matter.

My friend, drawn to the metal, ran her hands over the walls. But then! The gallery guard man told my friend not to touch the work. The sculpture exudes defiance, and we both frowned at the guard for his habituated duty.

|| BC ||

[1] Cooke, Lynne. “Richard Serra, Long Term View Introduction,” Dia Beacon, Retrieved April 22, 2012 from: 

[2] Deleuze, Gilles. “Mediators” Negotiations Trans. Martin Joughin. New York: Colombia University Press. 1995. P. 126

[3] Deleuze, P. 125

[4] Cooke.

[5] Lynn, Gregg. Animate Form New York: Princeton Architectural Press. 1999. 125

[6] Deleuze, Gilles. “What Children Say” Essays Critical and Clinical. Translated by Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco. New York: Verso. 1997.

[7] Cooke.


Posted in Art, Deleuze with tags on April 11, 2012 by immanentterrain2



The Seed Cathedral Reminiscent of Deleuzean Fold


“…Shanghai 2010 Expo. The event is the largest Expo ever with two hundred countries taking part and over 70 million visitors expected. The theme of the Expo is ‘Better City, Better Life,’”[1]

Deleuze uses baroque architecture as a platform to articulate the “Fold;” an obscure, sensory, metaphysical relation of forms prompted by whorls, verticality, intricacies and interior/exterior relationships. However, Baroque architecture is a monument, and to follow Deleuze is to seek for new possibilities. Deleuzean ideas can be transferred to examples in contemporary architecture. Particularly, the Seed Cathedral, presented by the British firm, Heatherwick Studios, officially known as the UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010, is exemplary of the Fold.

Baroque architecture is not being compared with Heatherwick Studios’ creations; rather upon reading the Fold descriptors, the Seed Cathedral seemed to fit the characteristics well. Below borrows fundamental points of consideration, but is limited in meeting the full description of the Fold. However, there are celebrated and contemplative values in unperceived advancements in Heatherwick’s architectural designs through subtle principles of movement, geography, human experience, and relation of the interior/exterior.

First a disclaimer, Heatherwick in this particular structure, is bound by the parking lot geography set out by the Shanghai Expo. This limits the architectural relationship to geography. Even still, nature finds refuge. As Euclid was preceded, Heatherwick abates tradition to unveil new geometries of living.  There is no function in the pavilion but a marvel and a public experience; the Seed Cathedral could be one of those designs in architecture that helps transition thinkers to envision a possible world that explores integration of nature.

Deleuze and Heatherwick have a common enemy: blocs of “soulless and cold” buildings. [2] Thomas Heatherwick speaks new tongue in architectural discourse through implicit process, but he distinguishes his design stance through his concern for materiality in buildings. Heatherwick is nearly on the cusp of actualizing the push for temporal image milieu that is dynamical, variable world. Heatherwick conceptualizes buildings based off his personal interactions and response to conventional buildings. He is adamantly against straight up and down buildings out of cold material: this is his philo-architectural problem. This resembles the Deleuzean resistance to prominence of considering gravity in architectural planning. Because the mission of conceiving space joins his creations, Heatherwick can be considered to be on a continuum, traveling to the rolling new possibilities around the world.

The Seed Cathedral is a 20-metre high building, constructed from 60,000 transparent 7.5-metre long optical strands, each of which has embedded within its tip a seed.  The seeds come from Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and their Millennium Seedbank. The interior is silent and illuminated only by the daylight that has filtered past each seed through each optical hair. This structure defies pragmatic usefulness, and honours nature. Heatherwick was also conscious to make the building playful and enjoyable to the public, and left the space around the Seed Cathedral open. He says, “a spiritual building is also a public building,”[3] signaling a respect for how the interplay between a building and people achieves intangible value and feeling when it is accessible to everyone.

The Fold perceives characteristics of a material that is ever potentially reduced, divided, and ever potentially unfolded, unraveled. Deleuze references Leibniz in explicating the Fold as

…a flexible or elastic body still has coherent parts which form a fold, with a result that they do not separated into parts of parts, but rather divide infinitely into smaller and smaller folds that always retain a certain cohesion. [4]

To consider the Fold as a design principle is to advocate for paradoxical perceptions and complex interactions.

To bind the descriptors of the Fold with The Seed Cathedral, consider the units of matter in the Fold. Minima are the smallest parts of the fabric of the Fold. In Heatherwick’s design, this refers to the encapsulated seeds within a larger cathedral. Optical rods are the genetic extension of the seeds. The rods express the singular growth of each seed amidst a collection of growth. Through the capsules, and concordantly through the optical rods, this design makes the seeds visible, and denotes new abstract Imagerelationship with nature. The relation of the smallest bit of seed attached to a larger optical cable, which extends to be a Fold, number of a blooming population of optical fibers. These rods are “…supple enough to be formed by what is outside or external to them, yet resilient enough to retain their coherence as architecture.”[5] The bendable nature of the rods is stable, strong, and yields to the wind. The wind interacts with these fibers to distinguish movements for the entire Seed Cathedral. A guest can experience the seed cathedral from outside, from inside, up close to each seed, each fiber, from the side. The building is seemingly uniform, but it is punctuated with distinctive individuality willed to be cohesive within a contained architectural structure. As Deleuze says, “A multiplicity is neither one nor many, but a continuous assemblage of heterogeneous singularities that exhibited both collective qualities of continuity and local qualities of heterogeneity.” [6]

What further enunciates the interior/exterior relationship in the design is how the light source is hosted. The holes in the Heatherwick building actually fold to embrace or project light. In the daytime, light peers onto the building, creating a sensational illuminated interior.Image These individual optic rods are attached to the building through ports, which also serve as openings for light to come into the interior. These multiple ports become an assemblage of light sources. At nighttime, the interior is artificially lighted, omitting outward through those ports. The building’s singular light source projects out in multiple directions, and the Seed Cathedral glows. This interplay of light sources, light directions, and light experience coincides with the idea of the Fold, where the interior and the exterior are the same. Light transforms the building, depending on the availability of sources. This design may be a member of a new regime of light Deleuze uses baroque architecture to exemplify the Fold: the interior is autonomous, and the exterior is independent, but both in a way that each impact the other. This fits Deleuze’s theory of the Fold: the inside and outside are inseparable.

The Seed Cathedral, a living form, is a result of a conscious of relationship to nature. There is harmony in vectors; the optical rods, which pull to a center. Then the interior warps to a curvaceous realm, meanwhile the extending branches align with the horizon and beyond. This structure has movement and openness.

Dullness of surroundings translates to dullness of the spirit, and the Seed Cathedral is an triumph of enlivening the nature, and material of architectural forms. It is possible that separation from or a tendency to exert dominance over nature alienates the human capacity to honour and nature it. Deleuzean ideas relating to the concept of the Fold is significant because it encourages designers and spectators to consider architecture as biological blocs of sensation. As Heatherwick’s approach to architecture grants the public with a lively spectacular structure, such is the result of thinking of architecture through other priorities. With such concepts in mind, relations between geography, buildings and the audience are calibrated, and could invariably influence possible designs. The Seed Cathedral, whether or not directly tied into Deleuzean ideas at the time of conception, reveals this favoring of conceptual architecture.

| Bria |


Cache, Bernard. Earth Moves: The Furnishing of Territories. Los Angeles: MIT Press, 1995: P. xvi

Deleuze, Giles. “The Fold,” Trans. Jonathan Strauss. Yale French Studies, No. 80, 1991, Pp 227 – 247.

“U.K. Pavilion,” Heatherwick Studios. Retrieved April 7, 2012, From:

Heatherwick, Thomas. “Thomas Heatherwick: Building the Seed Cathedral” Retrieved April 7, 2012, From:

Unknown Author. “Thomas Heatherwick,” TimeOut Hong Kong. Retrieved April 7, 2012, From:


Song, Aly. “The Seed Cathedral – Photo Essays,” TIME MAGAZINE. Retrieved April 11 From:,29307,2030655,00.html

[1] “U.K. Pavilion,” Heatherwick Studios. Retrieved April 7, 2012, From:

[2] Heatherwick, Thomas. “Thomas Heatherwick: Building the Seed Cathedral” Retrieved April 7, 2012, From:

[3] Unkown. “Thomas Heatherwick,” TimeOut Hong Kong. Retrieved April 7, 2012, From:

[4] Deleuze, The Fold. P. 233

[5] Cache, Bernard. Earth Moves: The Furnishing of Territories. Los Angeles: MIT Press, 1995: P. xvi

[6] Deleuze, P. 23